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Google Analytics: Common Setup Mistakes

As the Data Analyst here at Media Lounge, I spend the majority of my daily work on Google Analytics – whether it’s delving into our own account or analysing one of our client accounts – you could say I live and breathe it.

However, what I find irritating through my day-to-day interactions within the tool is the number of accounts I see missing key elements of setup. Without a complete and comprehensive account setup, both data collection and website analysis will be limited – something that ultimately restricts my job of analysing this data.

To make sure you get the most from your Google Analytics account (and to simplify analysis when you come to review your data), I’ve listed what I believe are the top six features you should have enabled and working on your account.

Let’s start with the basics…

User Tracking

The biggest mistake that you can make in your Google Analytics account is not tracking user data. Ignoring this option simply means no data will report in your account and you will not be able to analyse your website performance.

Why does this occur?

For Google Analytics to track user data, the global site tag must be added to the backend of the site correctly. If no user data is being shown, the code has either not been added or has been added incorrectly.

How do I fix this?

To amend this, the global site tag (also known as the unique tracking code) for your website must be added as the first item in the <HEAD> tag of every web page that you want to track. You can find the global site tag for your site in the admin tab of your Google Analytics account via Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Tracking Code.

Once this has been successfully added, user data will begin tracking. However, it is important to allow up to 24 hours for Google to start reading the tag and reporting data – so do not panic when data does not start appearing instantaneously.

Without a complete and comprehensive Google Analytics account setup, both data collection and website analysis will be limited.

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eCommerce Tracking

The next common Google Analytics setup mistake we see regularly is not enabling eCommerce tracking – which in our eyes is ludicrous!

Why so ludicrous?

While some insights can be gathered from knowing how many users are reaching your site and how engaged these users are, eCommerce tracking can tell you what this traffic returns in terms of revenue and business success. Additionally, insights just from user tracking alone can be misleading.

For example, a page which acquires a high average session duration could appear as one of your top performing pages through standard user tracking. However, with eCommerce tracking enabled in your account, you can see how effective this page is in generating conversions which is the end goal for any eCommerce store.

How do I set up eCommerce tracking?

Firstly, eCommerce tracking must be enabled in the Admin tab of your Google Analytics account via Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings > Enable Ecommerce. The second step will require a code-savvy developer to put the appropriate code into the backend of the site. We recommend taking a look at Google’s step-by-step guide on eCommerce tracking setup for more information.

Enhanced eCommerce tracking also provides further visibility on where your users are dropping off in the user journey as well as at what stage on the basket and checkout pages. Again, Google’s step by step guide on Enhanced eCommerce tracking outlines how to do this clearly.

Marcus Wincott

Marketing Manager

Media Lounge

Tracking basic user behaviour data without the all important conversion information can lead to all sorts of misinterpretations but keeping your eCommerce data at the centre of your analysis will keep you focused in the right areas. Enhanced features like shopping and checkout behaviour can help identify friction points your customers are experiencing like delivery rates, payment providers, payment options and shipping services.

Demographics and Interests

Demographics and Interests reports are often missed off the list when setting up a Google Analytics account. Tracking your user demographics and interests can give you a better understanding of what type of users are finding your site and can provide visibility on who best to target to gain the most from your marketing efforts.

How do I enable demographic and interest reports?

You can enable the Demographics and Interests reports in your account from either the Admin or Reporting tab.

Enable the reports from the Admin tab:

  1. Sign into your Analytics account
  2. Click ‘Admin’
  3. Navigate to the account and property where you want to use Demographics and Interests Data
  4. In the PROPERTY column, click ‘Property Settings’
  5. Under Advertising Features, set Enable Demographics and Interests Reports to ‘ON’
  6. Click ‘Save’

Enable the reports from the Reporting tab:

  1. Sign into your Analytics account
  2. Navigate to the account, property, and view where you want to use Demographics and Interests data
  3. Open the Audience > Demographics > Overview report
  4. Click Enable

Again, data will begin to report within 24 hours of enabling.

Site Search

A common trend we are seeing more and more in eCommerce (site dependant) is visits which include an on-site search converting at a much higher rate than those visits which don’t. As a result, we are seeing site search optimisation benefit a large amount of eCommerce owners.

Things like using a smart, predictive site search or repositioning the search bar in a more convenient place on the site has seen sizeable impact on revenue figures. Therefore, monitoring your site search data could pay off – literally!

How do I enable site search tracking?

Site search tracking can be turned on in the Admin area of your account via the following steps:

  1. Sign into your Analytics account
  2. Navigate to the account, property, and view where you want to analyse site search data
  3. In the VIEW column, click ‘View Settings’
  4. Under Site Search Settings, set Site Search Tracking to ‘ON’
  5. Enter the query parameter found in between the ‘=’ and ‘?’ characters in your URL when you enter a search on your site. This is often the letter ‘q’ or the word ‘search’.
  6. Click ‘Save’

For more information on the benefits of monitoring your site search, check out our previous blog:

See also: How To Optimise Your Website: On-Site Search

Filters 

Not having filters set up in your account can lead to skewed and inaccurate data. For example, not filtering out traffic from your own IP address and other third party IP addresses will skew session and engagement figures, making them bogus.

How do I apply filters?

Filters can be applied to one (or more) of your reporting views inside your Google Analytics account via the Account or View columns in your account Admin area. Applying a filter to a singular view can be done via the following steps:

  1.  Sign into your Analytics account
  2.  Click ‘Admin’
  3.  Navigate to the property and view you wish to add the filter to
  4.  In the VIEW column, click ‘Filters’
  5.  Click ‘+ ADD FILTER’
  6.  Select ‘Create new filter’
  7.  Enter Your ‘Filter Name’
  8.  Select your ‘Filter Type’*
  9.  Follow the instructions under each Filter Type
  10.  Click Save

*There are a number of predefined filters available or you can customise your own filters.

Can I apply multiple filters?

Yes, you can create and apply multiple filters in your Google Analytics view, however, the order you apply multiple filters matters. Filters work on a cascade system, applying the top filter first and so on so think about your order carefully.

Single View

More often than not, we see single-view Google Analytics accounts. The problem with only having a single view account is that is does not allow for tests or mistakes. The recommended amount of views per account by Google is three:

  • Master View – for your filtered data
  • Test View – to test e.g different filters and event tracking
  • Raw View – where the data is not tampered with and acts as a backup should anything happen to your master view

Unlike the other five points in the article, having a single view does not limit your data collection but can save your back should any issue occur!

Summary

These are our minimum requirements for effective data analysis – it’s likely that your eCommerce store may only have two, three or four of these setup features active in your account. Adding more functionality to your Google Analytics account is something that is simple to achieve and could deliver fantastic insights into the needs and preferences of your audience.

Follow these six setup rules and your Google Analytics account will be fit for complete analysis.

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